How 2016 Candidates Are Navigating Campaign Finance Regulations

Editor’s Note: The Millennial Voices series is written by and for Millennials to foster nonpartisan discussion. Alex Deitz is a senior at the University of Oregon. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

Most Millennials agree the influence of money in politics is rising in the United States. Almost two-thirds of Millennials (63%) say government regulations favor special interest over the public. However, anyone looking for a 2016 presidential candidate willing to lessen this influence is likely wasting their time. 

Source: Creative Commons 

Source: Creative Commons 

Consider Hillary Clinton’s newest tactic: the Clinton campaign has absorbed and coordinated with Correct the Record through a loophole in FEC regulation. Previously a branch of the American Bridge super PAC, Correct the Record will be aiding the Clinton campaign through online campaigning only. 

Correct the Record is circumventing the coordination ban by using FEC rule 100.155, titled "uncompensated internet activity by individuals that is not an expenditure." Correct the Record can only remain registered as a super PAC so long as the employees are uncompensated, and they do not "spend money on ads or any other expenditures that would not constitute independent political activity."

According to Campaign Legal Center senior counsel Larry Noble, “The Internet exemption wasn’t meant for a political committee to raise unlimited money in coordination with a candidate. It was meant for bloggers. It was not intended to be this massive operation where you are outsourcing your rapid response team.”

Correct the Record claims this exemption has been relied upon thousands of times, and its use is no anomaly. The Clinton campaign is certainly not alone in its efforts to navigate the murky waters of campaign finance.

On the other side of the race, candidates are parsing their words carefully to avoid FEC regulations. Prior to declaring an official presidential campaign, specific rules can apply to an individual's fundraising methods and any coordination with super PACs. Therefore, many presidential hopefuls have used the utmost caution to avoid the appearance of campaigning.

Source: Creative Commons

Source: Creative Commons

Jeb Bush chose to circumvent this nuisance of the law by doubling down on hypotheticals. In speeches and events prior to declaring his campaign for the presidency, Bush reiterated that he had not gone “beyond the consideration of the possibility of running." Doing so allowed him to raise incredible amounts of money with limited disclosure.

Few doubt the adverse affects of money in politics, yet any attempts to change the way special interests shape politics are dominated by current pressures to maintain the status quo. Unless voters demand change, we cannot expect to find candidates willing to be role models in the fight for a more pure democracy. 

Alex Deitz is the MAP Operations intern and a senior at the University of Oregon, majoring in political science with a minor in public speaking. As a Gilman scholar, she spent time studying comparative politics in Russia and has since focused on research in constitutional law. 

As a tax-exempt nonprofit organization governed by Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, Millennial Action Project (MAP) is generally prohibited from attempting to influence legislative bodies in regards to policy and legislation. It is important to note guest authors frequently take firm stances on issues and policy matters that are currently being debated by policymakers; when they do, however, they speak for themselves and not for MAP, its board, council or employees.